Energy in Orthodox Theology and Physics: From Controversy to Encounter
It is well known that energy is a fundamental concept in physics. Much less well known is that it is also a key concept in Eastern Christian or Orthodox theology. This book from Dr. Stoyan Tanev--a physicist, innovation management scholar,...
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It is well known that energy is a fundamental concept in physics. Much less well known is that it is also a key concept in Eastern Christian or Orthodox theology. This book from Dr. Stoyan Tanev--a physicist, innovation management scholar, and theologian--provides a comparative analysis of the conceptualizations of energy in Orthodox theology and in physics, and demonstrates the potential of such comparison for a better understanding of these two quite different domains of human enquiry. The book explores the rediscovery of the Byzantine Church's teaching on the Divine energies in twentieth-century Orthodox theology, and offers new insights about the key contributions of key theologians such as Sergius Bulgakov, George Florovsky, John Meyendorff, Christos Yannaras, and Thomas Torrance. Where do the understandings of energy in theology and physics meet? The author argues that the encounter between theology and physics happens at the level of quantum physics, where the subtle use of words and language acquires a distinctive apophatic dimension. His comparative approach focuses on the epistemological struggles of theologians and physicists. According to Tanev, this focus on the struggles of knowing offers a new way to look at the dialogue between science and theology. ""This work by Stoyan Tanev is by far the most thorough analysis yet made of the structural isomorphism in the roles played by the concept of energy in physics and theology. It promises to open up new areas of inquiry for all who are interested in the essence/energies distinction, Eastern Orthodox theology, or the relationship between theology and science."" --David Bradshaw, University of Kentucky ""In an era where a new thought of suspicion marks the crack of a post-secularist dawn, Tanev's unique contribution consists of opening a fertile discussion between the controversial, in the West, concept of energy in the theology of the Greek Fathers, and the most advanced cosmological aspirations of modern physics. Tanev will prove to be one of the pioneering figures of such a promising research, and his book will launch a host of compelling discussions."" --Nikolaos Loudovikos, University Ecclesiastical Academy of Thessaloniki, Greece ""Stoyan Tanev unfolds the Eastern Christian teaching on the distinction between Divine essence and energies and demonstrates its everlasting actual vitality. His main focus is on its critical relevance in the sophiological debates, the analogical isomorphism of 'energy' in theology and quantum physics, as well as the value of the teaching for today's social sciences. The emphasis on the efficiency of the teaching in solving contemporary issues in domains other than theology opens up completely new dimensions of its vitality and relevance. Tanev's work is not just a call for a necessary step in uncovering these new dimensions. His Energy in Orthodox Theology and Physics is actually the first step in this direction."" --Georgi Kapriev, Sofia University, Bulgaria ""By demonstrating the coherence of the traditional position of the Orthodox Church on the essence and energies--a position so eloquently defended by Saint Gregory Palamas--and by making the connection with contemporary Physics, Stoyan Tanev makes a significant and timely contribution to contemporary Orthodox dogmatic theology. Significantly, he does so not simply as an academic, but as a son of the Church, desirous of articulating its empirical theology in all its beauty and power."" --Maxym Lysack, Protopresbyter, Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church, Ottawa, Canada ""The main contribution of the book of Stoyan Tanev is the way he integrates his work and explorations in the domain of the natural and social sciences with the theological discourse and vision of the Orthodox Church. Besides its purely academic and exploratory research dimensions, the book has also a significant existential dimension. It is Stoyan's journey deep into the 'House of the Father'--the fait